Somalia parliament convenes after decades
Members of Somalia's first formal parliament in more than two decades are sworn-in on Monday, marking an end to an eight-year transitional period.
Tribal elders from Somalia's complex clan structures have nominated the legislators who must have had no history of violence and have at least, a secondary education. A third of them must be women.
The lawmakers are vetted by a committee that includes members chosen by the top three leaders including the president.
The new parliament, to be made up of a lower house with 275 members and an upper house with a maximum of 54 members, holds its first session later on Monday.
So far, about 215 MPs have been chosen.
Main tasks of new MPs
Members of the new parliament are being accredited at the country's main airport - one of the few areas of the capital considered secure.
The MPs' first meeting, likely to also happen at the airport for security reasons, comes on the day the mandate for Somalia's UN-backed transitional government expires.
After choosing a Speaker, the Parliamentarians' main task will be to elect a new president. A vote to the new president is expected within a week or two.
Outgoing moderate Islamist President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, in power since 2009, is regarded as a favourite.
Other strong candidates include Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and former parliamentary speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.
Critical moment in affairs
With the help of African Union peacekeepers, the interim government has been able to gain control the capital, Mogadishu but al-Shabab - an armed group that has joined al-Qaeda - runs many central and southern areas of the country.
It is a critical moment for the country which, since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, has seen warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all taking a hand in its affairs.
Analysts say Somali politicians, the United Nations and other outside powers have been working frantically to ensure a new authority is in place.
A process of mixed reactions
It has been a long and difficult process as the country has been without effective central authority for so long that numerous power bases have emerged.
A statement by the UN said, "The conclusion of the transition should mark the beginning of more representative government in Somalia."
The process so far has been generally welcomed by the international community.